JAMA doctor resigns from position after disagreeing with notion of “structural racism” in medicine

Edward H. Livingston, a doctor at the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), has been forced out of his position after expressing his desire to remedy racial disparities and questioning whether there may be a better term for “structural racism” in the medical field.

Activists called for a boycott against the Journal of the American Medical Association after Livingston said that no physician was racist. “Structural racism is an unfortunate term,” said Livingston on the podcast. “Personally, I think taking racism out of the conversation will help. Many of us are offended by the concept that we are racist.” Editor-in-chief Howard Bauchner, M.D., later apologized for the podcast and said that he had asked for and received Livingston’s resignation. Bauchner said the comments made on the podcast did not reflect the values of the American Medical Association.

Much of the uproar centered around the now-deleted tweet that quoted from the podcast. “No physician is racist, so how can there be structural racism in health care? An explanation of the idea by doctors for doctors in this user-friendly podcast,” read the tweet. Bauchner announced that the journal’s oversight committee is investigating how the podcast and a tweet promoting the episode were developed, reviewed, and ultimately posted. “This investigation and report of its findings will be thorough and completed rapidly,” Bauchner said. Livingston, the host of the podcast, has been heavily criticized across social media. The audio of podcast has been deleted from JAMA’s website. In its place is audio of a statement from Bauchner. In his statement, which he released last week, he said the comments in the podcast, which also featured Mitch Katz, MD, were “inaccurate, offensive, hurtful and inconsistent with the standards of JAMA.”

Katz – an editor at JAMA Internal Medicine and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals in New York City – responded to the backlash last week with the following statement: “Systemic racism exists in our country. The disparate effects of the pandemic have made this painfully clear in New York City and across the country. As clinicians, we must understand how these structures and policies have a direct impact on the health outcomes of the patients and communities we serve. It is woefully naïve to say that no physician is a racist just because the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbade it, or that we should avoid the term ‘systematic racism’ because it makes people uncomfortable. We must and can do better.”

On Wednesday, AMA CEO Dr. James Madera released a statement announcing Livingston’s compliance with a request to resign, citing “many in our physician community” who “expressed anger, hurt, frustration and concern” with a February podcast hosted by Livingston. “The AMA recognizes how our own decisions throughout history have contributed to the inequities that exist in health care, and we have taken a number of actions to address past wrongs,” continued Dr. Madera. “But we must and will do more to help dismantle structural racism across health care, including within our own institution.” The full podcast, obtained by The Daily Wire, can be accessed here.





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